Posts filed under ‘Whole Health’

Green Washing, not greenwashing.

Cleaning products

I recently went on a shopping spree in Soho. No, not for clothes, but for green cleaning products.

Green Depot began as a supplier of green building materials- think insulation, paint, tiles. Their success in the building world coincided with a rise in public awareness and interest, and they recently took the plunge into the consumer world. Green Depot’s store on the Bowery showcases all things to do with “living,” from building materials to gardening supplies and lighting options. They have a “filter” system that evaluates the environmental impact of their products, so as to “squarely address greenwashing.” With the curator of all things natural and organic (Whole Foods) just down the street, it certainly feels like Green Depot is angling for the position in the world of green.

For me, the jewel in the Green Depot crown is their cleaning agent refill bar.

Soap bar

Anyone can bring a bottle in and have it refilled with glass/tub & tile/all purpose cleaner or dish soap. Eager to give it a try, I crossed town with 3 empty bottles (method, Listerine & Envirostep) in hand. The stuff is literally on tap, and several pumps later, the friendly barista (soaptender?) had filled the bottles and taped on new labels. The cost? 12 cents an ounce, which works out to be less than a new bottle.

In addition to the modest cost savings, that’s three less plastic bottles for me to chuck in a landfill. (I’ve been haunted about my plastic footprint since watching “Garbage Island.”  It’s a problem.)

Is it reasonable to think that everyone is going to schlep around with empty bottles in their purse? Maybe not. But response has been very positive, and one hopes that it might provoke major players such as P&G and Unilever to acknowledge that consumers are beginning to care enough to go a little extra distance– and that there is opportunity to meet us halfway. I personally would be delighted if my supermarket had a refill station for everything from shampoo to cooking oil. –Kat


August 17, 2009 at 5:49 pm

CDC calls America “obesogenic”

Health WrapAnd here’s some evidence. Happy Friday!

CDC’s definition of Obesogenic: “Characterized by environments that promote increased food intake, nonhealthful foods, and physical inactivity.”


August 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm Leave a comment

The Amazing Year That Was

Obama crowd

2008 was an unforgettable year for us at People Are Amazing. Aside from Kat getting married, and me getting typhus, we launched this very blog and (despite our best efforts), it is still up and running! Since then, we’ve been privileged to interview a number of amazing people from Kalliopi Kohas, owner of Greek pine sap purveyor Mastiha to Tony Dusko, 5th grade teacher by day, whimsical web animator by night. A personal highpoint was hearing the wise words of 90 year-old Dave Crawford on growing up during the Great Depression and how best to navigate a crumbling economy.

But the recession didn’t keep us from visiting some intriguing places. John took a trip to Brooklyn’s own Fine and Raw for a taste of artisanal, dairy/sugar/preservative-free chocolate. He brought back some perishable, refrigerated samples and we made sure they never reached room temperature! Kat found herself in the Mid-West wandering the aisles of Cincinatti’s own supermarket/amusement park Jungle Jim’s. Food, it seems, is a minor obsession at P.A.A.. Kat’s post about local panini-makers S’Wich found its way onto foodie blog Eater in May. I wrote about an awful new bottled tap water I came across at a bodega; in turn, that company curiously linked to our post, “Tap’NY Must Think You’re Stupid,” in their press section.

Surprisingly, our most popular post ended up being about a miscolored canine. In early May, I was experimenting with ways to boost traffic and I noticed that the search term “green puppy” was “volcanic” in popularity on Google Trends. Apparently, a Labrador with a pea-colored coat had been born in New Orleans and really people wanted to see the pictures. I posted the two images available at the time, unaware that moments later the popular site Buzzfeed would link to our post. Within a matter of minutes, we had thousands of viewers visiting our humble little blog. Thus, the “Green Puppy Effect” was born.

Obviously, you never quite know where a year will take you. This time last year, People Are Amazing didn’t even exist. But between blogging about diabetic rappers and Colorado grease thieves, we were thrilled to ride the ups and downs of 2008. Luckily for us, amazing things are always on the horizon and 2009 is sure to provide hearty fodder for the blog. Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

— Johnny

January 12, 2009 at 3:12 pm Leave a comment

High Fructose Corn Syrup: Food Villain?

In the past few years, High Fructose Corn Syrup has hogged the spotlight as an insidious force in the food world. Natural foodies have embraced this latest bogeyman, blaming it for allergies, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. It has become shorthand for over-processing, consumer exploitation, contentious farm subsidies and questionable parenting. The tides have turned so much against HFCS that the Corn Refiners Association has launched a campaign to point out that while is it fast becoming a “food villain,” few people actually know why they have come to see it as a negative ingredient in food:

There are some interesting parallels with organic food, which has simultaneously become positively coded in society. Different people value organics for different reasons: safety, taste, naturalness, humaneness… the list goes on, but regardless of specifics, the result is that many people just think it’s “better.” HFCS is organics’ evil twin. People have come to eye HFCS with suspicion for a multitude of reasons, believing that it is unhealthy, unnatural, everywhere, tastes inferior and the root of the obesity problem. It’s a food villain.

There is a reason for the raging debate. I looked for a simple answer, but there isn’t one. People are very opinionated, arguments from both sides are at times more emotional than logical, there is an abundance of fuzzy facts and inconclusive science, and there’s little distinction between cause and correlation. I thought that it would be helpful to share some of the information and questions I had, so that people who haven’t made up their minds can base their own opinions on fact rather than hype. (more…)

September 11, 2008 at 4:13 pm 2 comments

It’s All Greek (Mastiha) To Me


Last year, a glowing little store called the mastihashop opened on Orchard Street in the Lower East Side. Mastiha is the hand-harvested resin from the trunk of mastic trees grown on Chios, Greece. It has been used for therapeutic purposes since Hippocrates’ time, and was studied by the University of Nottingham as a treatment for peptic ulcers.

The store is a veritable festival of Mastiha: flavored candies and sweet treats, spice shakers for cooking, teas, homeopathic powder for digestive problems, gum, and skincare products (developed in conjunction with the slick Greek beautycare brand Korres). Here are some of the forms you can taste at the store:

The mastihashop is run by sisters Kalliopi and Artemis Kohas. Kalliopi recently took some time to chat with me about introducing the magical sap to the US. –Kat

How did you get into the mastiha business?

My sister and I have been surrounded by mastiha our whole lives and when the “mastihashops” were created in Greece we knew that we wanted to participate in mastiha’s renaissance and be the ones to bring it to the US. We approached the company and to our good fortune they chose to work with us.

What have you learned in the past year since launching mastihashop?

I have learned that no matter how excellent your product is, without the proper exposure and channels of distribution your product won’t get the attention and sales it deserves. The biggest challenge is being proactive and creative everyday in order to educate the public to a product that they have never even heard of. (more…)

August 4, 2008 at 9:34 am 2 comments

March of the Pomegranates

While we’ve been eating pomegranates since Persephone‘s time in Ancient Greece, the fruit has been relatively absent from the contemporary American diet — a mere 5% of Americans had tasted one in 2002. Six years later, the pomegranate craze is officially in full swing.

How has this ancient fruit suddenly become one of America’s hottest ingredients? We think it’s thanks to the eerily successful marketing genius of POM Wonderful, documented recently in a fascinating New Yorker article. But beyond juice, it seems that the warming of American palates and minds to the concept pomegranates has had a huge ripple effect, opening the floodgates for products across multiple categories. At last scan, we’ve seen it pop up in everything from vodka to gum, and Sephora’s aisles are packed with pomegranate enhanced products from Murad, Philosophy, Fresh and Korres to name a few.

What’s next? That depends partly on science, and partly on where marketing dollars get spent. Goji berries are the “antioxidant du jour,” but my eye is on a fruit I grew up eating, the delicious (and beautiful!) mangosteen. It also boasts superfruit qualities, and has begun to hit the shelves since the ban in the US (over fruit fly concerns) was lifted last year. –Kat

May 27, 2008 at 7:10 pm Leave a comment

Yogurt Can Do Anything! Current TV Mocks Activia, Yoplait

If I were made to watch commercials all day long, it’s quite likely I would put my head through the TV. As entertaining as it is to sit back and pick apart 30 second spots, its scary to think of the subtle sociological impact of certain horrible ads. In playing to their audience’s highest aspirations, advertisers often reinforce a fantasy world where every brand, regardless of the service or product offered, exists to inspire a more fulfilling and joyful life for us all. Take Cialis’ wholesome package: not only improved sexual performance, but a wife who loves you again, a beautiful home, a golden retriever and an empty beach stretching far into the horizon…

Luckily, not everyone has swallowed the happy pill. In Current TV’s sarcastic segment called Target: Women, host Sarah Haskins takes marketers and advertisers to task for what she perceives as phoniness and emotional pandering. The segment uses a compilation of yogurt commercials to illustrate the lack of authenticity that plagues female-focused marketing. In the lala land of commercials breaks, women lounge around all day in bathrobes with their girlfriends gabbing about how good their yogurt tastes. And while the actors do not all look the same, they certainly represent the same transparent target segments. “Yogurt eaters come from every race, but just one socioeconomic class: the class that wears grey hoodies, it’s that, ‘I have master’s but then I got married’ look,” quips Haskins. Now if only us menfolk had someone to fight TV’s pervasive fumbling husband stereotype.

Check out the video here. — Johnny

May 21, 2008 at 7:21 pm Leave a comment

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